There is an opaque haze in the sky today.
I am reminded of the many mornings i’ve spent in cities across the world, often wandering the streets, alleys and lanes at the turn of seasons, where the temperature is quite perfect; a mild coolness in the air yet tempered by the supportive warmth of the sun.
Firefighters are back-burning in the bush today and the woodsmoke fills the air. It’s not good to breathe in, but the smell… is timeless.
Images are conjured in my mind; walking on patterned cobblestones through a market square in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, gazing at Metropolis through a taxi window in Kuala Lumpur, or dodging everything and anything that moves on the roads, while speeding through the traffic, on the back of a motorbike in Bangkok.
Many memories come from India, a place that has always held a deep place in my heart.
Observing the bustle and business at a train station while eagerly anticipating a long overnight journey somewhere new, watching the lapping of the ganges river along the ghats while people swim, bathe, play, pray or wash their garments and fabrics, scenes from walking through the ancient yet chaotic sprawl of Delhi, to the dusty village backroads of Goa…
The haze and scent that has encapsulated Sydney today is quite common in non-western countries, where local folk often do not have rubbish and household garbage management; waste is often left to the dissolution of fire, regardless of material.
Plastic, wood, general rubbish and food scraps are made into piles and burned off, or used as fuel for the cooking fire. It is not uncommon to see blackened and charred piles smouldering along the roads and gutters, or outside family homes.
Despite the contrast between purity vs pollution and the striking lack of social services in these places, the smell today reminds me of a more simple approach to life; in the absence of basic services, daily living is largely left to the resourcefulness and improvisation of the people.
The prevailing attitude could be said to encompass “if it’s up to me, it’s up to me” – Ingenuity, responsibility and self-reliance within communities is something that has always made an impression and stood out to me on my travels.